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Not conceded any territory as result of agreement with China: Govt

Indian and Chinese Army officers hold a meeting at Pangong lake region in Ladakh on February 10, 2021. Photo: Indian Army  

The disengagement at the south bank of Pangong Tso (lake) will see Indian troops moving to their post in Chushul and China to the Moldo garrison. In the next phase, additional Indian troops will move further down, around 40 km to Tara-Rhongo post, and Chinese troops to Dorjo, a senior government official told The Hindu

The official spoke on background on a day when the Defence Ministry said in a statement that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was at Finger 8 and not at Finger 4 at Pangong Tso. At the same time, the Ministry said India had not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement.

 

In August 2020, Indian troops had taken advantageous positions on the hills in the south bank following which China matched presence leading to an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. This incident followed China blocking Indian patrols at multiple locations in Eastern Ladakh-north Pangong, Gogra-Hot Springs, Galwan, Depsang and CNN sector in Demchok, followed by amassing of troops and armaments. 

The official said the moratorium on patrolling had been recorded in the agreement document signed by military commanders.

“The agreement mentions in as many words that suspension of patrolling is temporary and will resume once both countries take a final decision. The right to patrolling in traditional areas is not compromised,” the official said.

Not conceded any territory as result of agreement with China: Govt
 

The suspension of patrolling is similar to what exists in the Galwan Valley where 20 soldiers were killed on June 15, 2020 in violent clash with the Chinese PLA. A buffer zone has been created here, said the official, adding that this was also a temporary mechanism. 

On Saturday, the main phase of disengagement at the north and south banks of Pangong is expected to begin.

“We will verify each step by all means, physical as well as electronic. The next priority is Depsang and Gogra-Hot Springs where the face-off continues.” 

Outstanding issues 

According to the Defence Ministry statement, the Defence Minister’s statement also made it clear that there are “outstanding problems to be addressed, including at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. The outstanding issues are to be taken up within 48 hours of the completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement,” the Ministry said. 

Stating that the assertion that the Indian territory is up to Finger 4 at Pangong Tso is categorically false, the statement said the territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962. “That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol up to Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China,” it said. 

Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established, the Ministry said, which on the Indian side, it is Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 and on the Chinese side, east of Finger 8.

“The current agreement provides for cessation of forward deployment by both sides and continued deployment at these permanent posts,” it said. 

Additional verification 

On the ongoing disengagement process, a defence official said India and China had put in place additional verification mechanisms to ensure that both sides adhere to the understanding reached for disengagement in Pangong Tso. 

This was done given the trust deficit and photography and videography are being done by both sides during withdrawal at each step and reported to their respective higher ups. The disengagement process is very slow and deliberate at each step, the official said. 

As the progress is under way, there is daily communication between local commanders directly and through the established hotline. 

The Ministry of External Affairs said the Defence Ministry statement had “set the record straight” on the issue. “This agreement was reached after several rounds of sustained negotiations at the military and diplomatic level,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava when asked about the timing of the disengagement announcement at Pangong Tso.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 11:07:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/not-conceded-any-territory-as-result-of-agreement-with-china-govt/article33821906.ece

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